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Kingston is ripe for tourism - Facey

Published:Tuesday | September 6, 2016 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
For those who want a quiet place to think, check the waterfront early on a Saturday or a Sunday.

The concept of making Kingston a workable tourist attraction could well move beyond the realm of a notion. It may just be the engine to drive interest in Jamaica's capital city, and make downtown buzz again.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Pan-Jamaican Trust Investment Limited (PanJam), Stephen Facey, has proposed that in order to see healthy growth and transformation in downtown Kingston, a renewed focus is needed in making Kingston a viable tourist attraction.

This, he believes, will increase revenues and enhance development, particularly for downtown Kingston which has seen slow-paced progress over the years.

"We think that downtown Kingston, in fact Kingston on a whole, is ripe for tourism, in particular cruise shipping. We think this would bring a fresh source of revenue to downtown Kingston," he said as he addressed an Editors' Forum at The Gleaner's offices at North Street. The forum discussed ways to restore downtown Kingston.

"We (Jamaica) used to have a cruise port at the foot of King Street. We don't see any reason why we can't put it back there. We have a lovely waterfront that can be improved on to something that can be a catalyst for further investment ... in what I would call an open port," said Facey


Plans for Oceana Hotel


He made reference to plans that are under way to operate the former Oceana Hotel, located downtown, an initiative he thinks will be profitable and boost development. Pan-Jam and partner Downing Street acquired the Oceana Hotel from the Urban Development Corporation for $385 million in early 2014 and are redeveloping the property.

"(We have to) change our history to one of growth and development. We (PanJam) are developing plans for the redevelopment of the Tower as a hotel and for residential use. We feel reasonably confident that we can attract and operate (an entity) which will be both profitable and appropriate for the location," he said.

Meanwhile, Metry Seaga, president of the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association, told journalists that the resources are available to bring downtown Kingston back to its glory days, but stressed that vision and action were needed.

"Any major city that you go to, the waterfront is its most valuable asset. It's where the real estate is most expensive and the truth is, it's a beautiful place to be," Seaga said.

"If you have your office where Digicel's (telecommunications company in downtown Kingston) office is, or anywhere on the waterfront, it is an amazing view. I think it is something that should be capitalised on," he said.